Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Airbnb drops ban on listings of Jewish-owned properties in West Bank

Airbnb drops ban on listings of Jewish-owned properties in West Bank

In a major defeat for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, home-sharing platform Airbnb announced Tuesday that it will back off of a plan to remove all listings of rentals in Israeli towns in the West Bank.

Like in the West Bank, it said profits from these listings will be donated to non-profit organizations around the world.

The San Francisco-based company said it would allow listings throughout the West Bank but donate any profit it generated to "organisations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world".

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Airbnb will now allow rentals in both the Palestinian areas and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The ban brought intense worldwide responses, including sanctions from Florida and several of its cities, since the company announced in November that, in recognition of the disputed nature of the West Bank territories, it would no longer do business with Jewish-owned properties there.

That policy, announced in November 2018, had banned Jewish property owners in Judea and Samaria from listing properties on Airbnb, while allowing Muslim and Christian property owners to list properties in the same area. "Airbnb's commitment to bar rentals in certain Israeli locales was completely discriminatory and fostered further support for the antisemitic BDS movement", stated NCYI President Farley Weiss.

Airbnb has "settled all lawsuits that were brought by hosts and potential hosts and guests who objected" to its West Bank policy, the company said.

"We are gratified that the legal process has worked and that as a result of the case we filed Airbnb came to recognize the mistake it had made and changed their policy", Tolchin added.

During the course of the almost 52-year Israeli military occupation, more than 50,000 Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished, and tens of thousands of Palestinians have been forcibly removed.

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Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The settlements are considered illegal under global law, although Israel disputes this. The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights released a statement calling the decision "shameful" and "a blatant attempt to whitewash reality".

The decision would have affected around 200 homes in Israeli settlements that had been listed on the platform.

Recently, Israeli authorities forced a Palestinian man to demolish his family's West Bank home or face massive fines, Sputnik reported.

Critics charged the company engaged in activities perceived as part of the anti-Israel "boycott, divestiture and sanctions" movement, or BDS.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.

Arvind Ganesan, a director at Human Rights Watch, called the company's reversal "disappointing" and suggested its offer to donate profits falls short. Airbnb's decision to retract its policy and adopt instead a neutral policy that treats people of all religions the same was the correct decision.

In December, Airbnb denied reports that it had reversed the policy.

'By continuing to do business in settlements, they remain complicit in the abuses settlements trigger'.

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